August 15, 2012 | Alyson Stanfield

How to Act Like The CEO Of Your Art Business

The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is the person at the top of a company’s hierarchy. The buck stops, ultimately, with the CEO.

Start acting like the CEO of your art business with these 5 tips.
How to Act Like the CEO of Your Art Business | Art Biz Coach

Artist CEOs Are In Charge

People have as much power over you as you give them. If you want to control your art business, you must take charge of your destiny. No one cares about your success more than you do.

No one else is going to look after you like you can.

For the Artist CEO, this means asking questions (and getting answers) and following up with people. It also means that you assume 100% responsibility for your actions.

Artist CEOs Seek Counsel from Trusted Sources

CEOs don’t run companies all by themselves! They have COOs, CTOs, and other managers.
Asking for help and advice is a sign of strength rather than weakness. You can make more informed decisions for your business by learning from others’ experiences.

The Artist CEO seeks input from a spouse, another artist, a friend with business savvy, or a coach. You know who to go to for support with specific situations, and who to avoid when negativism or criticism is possible.

Artist CEOs Delegate

CEOs do what they do best and delegate the rest. A CEO doesn’t have time to micromanage or, worse, do work that other people are better qualified to do.

As an Artist CEO, your #1 priority is your studio practice. Always!

As you go throughout your week, pay attention to tasks you’re currently doing that you could delegate. It doesn’t mean you’re going to hire someone right away. I just want you to be aware of how you’re spending your time. I think you’ll be surprised.

Artist CEOs Understand and Follow the Bottom Line

CEOs know how the money is made. They know how to cost out a service or product, and they know what their profit margins are.

More importantly, they read their companies’ financial reports and adjust operations as necessary. If a product, service, or situation is losing money, they will seek to stop the bleeding immediately.

As an Artist CEO, you know the cost of your materials and the time it takes to make something. You understand that your work must be priced for its market, but you also are aware that you must make a living.

See where your money is coming from, and what is costing you income. Learn how to read your financial reports.

Artist CEOs Adapt to the Environment

The world is changing faster than ever before. CEOs stay on top of technology, trends, materials, and information.

As an Artist CEO, you want to keep an eye on all of these areas in addition to the way art is exhibited (art fairs, galleries, outdoor festivals) and promoted (photography styles, magazines, online retail spaces, your local papers).

You are the CEO of your art business. Are you acting like it?

14 comments add a comment
  • What perfect timing for this post! Thank you, Alyson. I recently decided to do several things to push my business to the next level, at the expense of, of course studio time. I found myself working 14 hour days working on infrastructure; organization, advertising, updating my website etc., etc., etc.
    But these things aren’t just “done” – they are not static and to keep things moving forward, and have studio time, I needed help. And then I remembered something you had posted quite some time about about outsourcing.
    I questioned “can I afford an assistant?” “Will it be a good investment”? So I wrote down all of the things that needed to be done on a weekly/monthly basis that took me away from painting. The answer was crystal clear – I can’t afford NOT to have an assistant! The amount of time for those tasks is significant and delegating those tasks to someone else frees me up not just to paint, but to network and cultivate my collectors.
    So thank you, thank you for reminding me that at the end of the day – investing in yourself and really being the CEO of your own company is the best investment you will ever make for your career.

  • You always give such useful advice! It has been a long hot summer in Philadelphia, I’ve learned that even if I pick excellent artwork, the gallery walls are not going to sell the works on their own.
    I’ve ventured out to new avenues including, magazine advertising, hosting charity events, connecting with home stagers, commercial and interior designers. My business is approaching our second anniversary. I want to make it over the 2 year hump!
    I think I’m doing just about everything you mentioned in your post. I would love to hear artist’s advice on where they find their clients. I’m finding that even if a person can afford an original work of art, they don’t value it like a spa visit, new furniture, or seasonal landscaping. How do I attract potential clients who value one of something; something that you know only one person on this earth created? FYI my gallery offers original works of art from $50 up to $4000ist.

  • […] instance, I just read Alyson B. Stanfield’s ArtBiz Blog entitled “How to Act Like the CEO of Your Art Business.”  Now there is a title that my imagination wants to work on.  Add THAT to the “files in my […]

  • Pam…Your gallery is on 3rd & Vine…Madame Rue is on 34th & Vine…I feel somehow you are close enough that maybe you should be selling some of her Love Potion Number 9…Ok enough about product…Every time I make a new artwork I order a new set of business cards from Vista print with the image…I hand them out daily, liberally…Joseph & I walk around alot & we tend to pat people’s dogs…So we chat alot…I make friends & hand them a card with the new image…Honestly I have never been able to make enough art to sell to the people that want it…My biggest problem is I am slow…The other thing I recently did was create a tiny mini catalogue using Snapfish, which offers a 2 inch by 3 inch tiny catalogue thing…I carry that in my fanny pack because it is tiny, & go through it with people after the business card handing out…I don’t give it to them though…But it is a great chatting tool…The combination of walking around alot & far & being chatty, combined with a nifty card & now the tiny catalogue is enough for me…I’ve been thinking of starting a corporation to get people to make my designs for me, just to keep up with demand…But I don’t know how to do that yet…Maybe Alyson can teach us?

    • Sari, Thanks for your comments. If you wouldn’t mind, could you send me a private email with a sample work and price. I curious to find out if your clients are similar to the gallery’s clients.

    • Pam, um Oops? I sent my answer(a while ago) to your request to which was the email I found for The Bluestone Gallery? if I sent it to the wrong place, I guess, um, well, sigh, ho hum…oops…sorry…

  • Suzanne

    For a bit of Artist CEO inspiration, I highly recommend the book: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. He followed all of the above advice, even wildly changing paths when necessary. Don’t have time to read then get it on CD and listen during your daily commute! This coming from someone who lives in LA. :) Enjoy.

  • On Becoming a CEO of My Artistic Ventures | Suzanne Gibbs

    […] While I do not embrace the concept of crazy artist I am beginning to realize that the drive, perseverance, and commitment it takes to be an artist is misunderstood by many. Jobs followed all of the advice I recently read about in Alyson B. Stanfield’s blog: […]

  • Anwar

    Thanks, not much going in or out at this time but cool. I AM ready to start with Sari’s advice though! Thanks a ton for those ideas!! My guess though is that your prices can go up!!

  • Ugh Anwar…It’s this teeny tiny line…Somewhere along the way, when you are not able to produce enough, you raise your prices, & all of a sudden you are filling your mum’s garage with leftovers…I’m not sure if when Baskin ‘N Robbins gets too crowded, that it is ok for the girls to start charging 40 dollars per ice cream cone because demand is too high…I was thinking more of starting a corporation (you know like taking over the world), & somehow making each thing more affordable, by maybe getting help from people I employ…Probably too big of a dream to chew off for the moment…Plus I don’t know how…

  • Christine Sauer

    I recently did a time tracking exercise as part of Artist Professional Development training from Creative Capital, N.Y. that was very revealing and really helped me focus how I spend my time. We had to write down everything we did for a week and how long we spent on stuff. Goal was to see how long we actually spent in the studio and on other stuff in an effort to learn to make more reasonable schedules, to see how much time things took vs what we thought they took, and to help avoid burn out. Also the advice was that 20% of your time should be spent on marketing, promoting, getting your work out there.Very helpful!

  • […] have a choice. You can accept full responsibility for your life and do the work required to get you where you want to be, or you can continue to lie to […]

  • I agree and disagree.
    “If a product, service, or situation is losing money, they will seek to stop the bleeding immediately.”
    For years, I’ve painted the same subject matter, same style (more or less). I support my family with the sale of my art work. Yes, it’s important for me to know what is selling well. I will continue to paint these paintings.
    BUT, I also paint a less popular subject matter. I have a passion for it and year after year I am selling more and more of this subject. So, while I can’t yet make a living selling these paintings, I won’t stop creating them. I suspect that eventually they will be my “Claim to Fame” .
    The difference with being a CEO of Coca Cola and CEO of your own art studio is the artist NEEDS to experiment. And you have to keep the passion alive.

  • […] Are you walking the walk?  What challenges have you had in being true to your words?  Let me know in the comments. […]

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *